Not too long ago, most parents trusted that the values and ethics for leading “the good life” were clear to their children. They trusted that church and society were in basic agreement about morality. They trusted that young people would learn the most important lessons through the cooperative moral agreement that appeared to be a part of a broad social contract. They trusted that the details of denominational belief could be learned at Sunday school, and that the full engagement of life would bring about formation of the soul.
Today, many act as if the same arrangement exists. And yet, the connection between what our young people learn from the surrounding culture and what they will learn from the gospel has changed. The word of God is always alive and active in the world, but the capacity to discern it has faded to an all-time low, not just in our society but also in the church. We have to ask ourselves: in our hyper-connected, media-dominated culture, how will the soul be formed? And what will it look like?
One of our responsibilities to God is to pass on knowledge of the sacred. Though faith is a path that each of us must choose individually, it is a sacred communal trust that must be renewed by every person and by every generation. It is an essential aspect of the command and gift we call love.
When Jesus called Peter to the task of sharing his faith, to live for others, he asked, “Do you love me?” Like Peter, we may be surprised to find that our responsibilities to others begin with intense self-evaluation. Do you love Jesus? Do you love God? What is truly important to you? What is your ultimate commitment?
The society in which we now live demands a renewed commitment to the sacred trust that compels us to share our spiritual knowledge and traditions with each other and with the generations to come. This is clearly one of our most urgent tasks as a community. It begins by a fearless searching of our individual hearts. Ω
Bishop Mark MacDonald is national indigenous bishop of the Anglican Church of Canada.